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by Ward Stothers

Our prayer to God this day is grateful celebration for his coming to earth to set us free, and my Prayer for the World is for his intercession in the calamities in China, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe.  Would you pray alongside me silently to our God:

You’re so involved with your creation, God.
You can’t stop sliding off
Your heavenly throne
Stretching out - creation wide
With your limbs of mercy and justice,
With involvement on earthen ground
Where your world is
And where, heaven will be recreated.

We hear you announcing in Jeremiah
That the prophet would experience one of your visits
As you reached out and touched his mouth, saying
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.”
Full of joy that Jeremiah was the receptor
Of your gifting presence,
Portioned out to him in audible Hebrew grammar,
Full of grief, that you directed him to a message you served as
Uprooting and tear down, destruction and a bitter end.

How is Northern Ireland doing, Lord?
Are we incense for the gospel of God
Offering peace with every forlorn, impoverished minute or,
Are we steeped in professional sports
With an always changing score
And another winner to idolize tomorrow?

Do we grow global connections, threads and avenues
That help to soothe the aching bellies
Of those consuming mud pies for evening meals or,
Have we omitted and avoided distress
Like the welfare of Afghani children,
Last winter dying in sub zero remote locations.
Have we prayed Isaiah 53’s jailbreak verses
For all those mentally and emotionally
Carting around burdens that scale mountains,
Rounding their shoulders involuntarily,
Or do we plead the desperate requests of others,
Including yours, Lord,
Only in formalized repetitions with hollow, marching prayers
Warming them over on our emotional stovetops
Cueing them up, penciling them in,
On long lists
With our neighbor at the end
Right before God
With his will for the world in his overflowing arms,
Still waiting for an invitation to be heard by his people.

The Israel of Jeremiah bragged,
God cannot run his chosen into the dust.
No harm will come to us,
Our God forgives and forgets.
We will never see the sword nor famine
For sending you on holiday.

And they did.

Lord, after paring down Israel for her pride,
And for bathing in earthenware idols,
 You gracefully ended Jeremiah’s call
With a new covenant-dressing in promises of,
“To build and to plant.”

Reminds us here in Northern Ireland to drink and get drunk on
The practice of humility,
From First Minister to the everyday poor.
To worship you as first, second and third---not last.
Make room for the line cutting, rambling needs of others.
Pronounce mercy, justice and love daily.
Take up our hammers
To build everywhere with your evidential love,
Especially Lord, the life needs from the China earthquake,
The Burmese cyclone and a true vote in Zimbabwe
If it hasn’t happened already.

Grow us your people, God

We will change, drawn by your loving relationship.
Empowered by your Holy Spirit
Chase us, every vagrant sheep
And let us honor you on
Repented, scaled and calloused, bending knees---
To plant fruited fields of wellness
Everyday and everywhere
 Glory for God,
Maturity growing us.

O Sovereign Lord
O Risen Christ
O Lamb of God.
Amen.



Copyright © 2008 Ward Stothers